Community Post: Best Songs ov 2014
2014 has been a banner year in heavy metal. Dissonant death metal is on the rise. Black metal, in its multifarious forms, continues to seethe and boil over in the underground. An entire army of technical death metal bands unleashed their widdlies, and more traditional stalwarts stood firm. Amid all the chaos of year-end listmania, you may be facing severe option paralysis. Perhaps you don’t have the time to listen to all of the albums we’ve listed and are in dire need of a few songs to help you decide how to spend your precious, fleeting grains in the hourglass. Well never fear, because I polled the writers and members of our little community, and each of us has presented our single favorite song of 2014. If you have a suggestion for the single best song of 2014, drop it in the comments. Let’s get this done!
Surprisingly, my favorite song of 2014 was nowhere in the domain of skronk. Instead, I found myself over and over returning to “Demon Pact” by Triptykon, an absolute basher from Melana Chasmata. From the opening caveman drums to that droning yet impossibly catchy vocal hook, this song is both mesmerizing and sinister in a genre full of bands attempting to be both and failing miserably. This golgothan bruiser will make your liver quiver and your heart fail.
“Archie, Marry Me” is perfect retro-pop songwriting, like a lost Phil Spector tune. There isn’t a wasted second here, just 3 minutes and 17 seconds of sunny escape. This song makes me wish I was young and carefree and fun instead of a grumpy metal blogger.
Suicidal Years didn’t make it into my Best of 2014 because they only released two songs this year. Those two songs, however, totally ruled, and “Contemplation of Self-Destruction” most of all. If someone had told me at the beginning of 2014 that my favorite song would come from a random Mexican DSBM band, I would’ve been like, “nah, dude” or “there’s no way you could even possibly know that.” But they would have been right, because this is the most genuinely expressive thing I’ve heard all year. Listen and get all sad.
Having to pick ten albums to make an end of the year list was a daunting task, requiring from me a great deal of soul searching and hard decisions. The criteria for determining my list became all-important, for without self-imposed guidelines my list would have never been narrowed down to just ten. Finally, I arrived at this golden number — ten albums survived their subjection to my rigorous processes, and I felt a sense of deserved accomplishment.
Then W. asked me to pick one song. ONE FUCKING SONG. One song to sum up the year. One song to present to the Toilet as my favourite song, trumping all other songs released this Gregorian calendar cycle. One song to rule them all, one song to bind them. It couldn’t be done! Except… Death Grips released an album this year. Or, to be precise, they released the first half of a double album. One song in particular always stood out for me: “Black Quarterback.” The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that this was probably my song of the year. While Niggas on the Moon didn’t necessarily have the same commanding presence as a whole as some of the other albums on my top ten list, the track “Black Quarterback” certainly rose above the others as a stand-alone choice. The background music, MC Ride’s sometimes spastic, sometimes gentle flow, the use of Bjork’s vocals, all work together in a mesmerizing display of just what Death Grips was capable of. I hope that Jenny Death comes out soon, but until that time I’ll just enjoy part one of The Powers that B and “Black Quarterback.”
The “Stranger” is just pure, unadulterated OSDM ear sex. Everything about it borders on perfect, from the grooving main riff to wails of agony to the tastiest leads you’ve heard all year. 2014 was a year that saw a lot of OSDM’s heavy hitters release albums, and not a single song on any of those albums comes within arms’ reach of “The Stranger.” Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself and prepare to soak your jimmies.
Honestly “Tread Lightly,” “The Motherload,” “High Road,” “Chimes at Midnight”… so many great tracks in their own right… BUT… “Asleep in the Deep” stands far out and away from everything else on that album and even their entire catalog. Shit’s entrancing.
Off the top of my head I would go with “Enshrined in the Nethermost Lairs Beneath the Oceans” off that Blood of Kingu album.
Ann Kvlter and Howard Dean
AK: I would say “Serpentskin” by Dead Congregation. Sinister as feck.
HD: A stunner of a track. The crown jewel on an album full of winners. Out of the gate the song blasts and shreds with the fury of a belligerent orchestra before giving way to a twisted, crawling demon of a riff. If one could distill the pure essence of modern death metal into a single tune, it would manifest in the stinging, snarling beast that is Dead Congregation’s “Serpentskin.”
Nordling Rites ov Karhu
I am forced to go with Earth‘s “From The Zodiacal Light.” I tried to tip with numerous death and black bands (thus the time it took) but I’m moody today. And that’s my jam.
My favorite song of the year is something you all probably would never guess. “Seven Crowns and the Oblivion Chain.” Archmotherfuckingspire! This song is just so fuckin chaotic I love it. I FUCKING LOSE MY SHIT EVERY TIME 2:55 HITS HOLY FUCK MAN. This song just makes me so damn hyper you guys.
It’s no secret that 2014 was a monster year for metal. In addition to all the great music being released, it was also a huge year for my personal tastes, which expanded violently in a short amount of time. If you told me a year ago that in a year my year-end list would have some of the noisy, weird crap that ended up on there, I would have said, “You said ‘year’ a lot of times.” So it seems fitting that when I was thinking about a song of the year, my mind kept going back to “Chaos Magician of the Abyss,” my favorite track off the new Cloak of Altering album. Along with the fantastically over-the-top name, this song rips a gaping hole right in the void itself with mechanical howling, electronic insanity, and a general sense of demented genius. It’s not at all accessible, catchy, or easy to listen to, but holy cow it is fascinating, and I feel it accurately represents my personal taste transformations for the year 2014. Gaze into the abyss, flushers, and watch the chaos magician…do whatever a chaos magician does.
It’s like our pal Stockhausen told me, “the climactic moment in ‘Balkanized’ has more vile putrescence in it than most metal bands have over their entire careers.” He then proceeded to tell me to get my “weak poser face out of his awesome metal face.” Pyrrhon took an evolutionary leap forward for their 2014 album, The Mother of Virtues. In what is the most well known song from my favorite album of the year (Psalm Zero or Herukrat would likely get the runner up song), Pyrrhon showcase what they do well on The Mother of Virtues on “Balkanized.” From the cryptic drum opening, “Balkanized” travels through unnerving noise rock and angular death metal over the course of its near five minute run. “Balkanized” changes tempo and shifts unpredictably, like the shamble of some drunken Lovecraftian nightmare. Vocalist Doug Moore sounds completely unhinged in his rants and screams here. The track reaches its climax of an inescapable existential crisis and brief moment of clarity when Moore exclaims “it’s not personal” two times before everything goes to hell for the track’s remainder. I know that feeling. Dissonant death metal is not a new phenomenon, but Pyrrhon have exacted it to a science. Based on “Balkanized.” I can only wonder what giant mutative leap forward Pyrrhon will take for their next full length effort.
So Manes album Be All End All is some odd combination of The Dust Brothers, Peter Gabriel, and Depeche Mode. Whatever, it’s a superb album but track 7 “Name the Serpent” is my favorite song of 2014… AND OF ALL TIME. No hyperbole here, it’s tied with Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” (a song which can’t be dethroned, at least not for a while). So it starts out with minimal guitar and bass, but some thunderous percussion sticks throughout the tune and keeps it all tied together. Oh yeah, and a creepy spoken word intro being told from the perspective of a woman who is having her head drilled.
After the intro(ish) section leads into the the full song, Tommy Sebastian Halseth’s killer melodic vocals kick in: a strained, emotional performance that’s only improved by his accent. And that guitar riff, not easy to describe… sounds like it’s from the soundtrack to a movie or something. It’s not crunchy or even really metal; it’s reminiscent of 80’s rock. The percussion, guitar riff, and vocals all bob and weave in and around each other in perfect harmony. I’ve listened to this song about 50 times since it was introduced to me and I’m not even close to tiring of it.
“The Obelisk Gleam” is massive chunk of horrific-echoing swells, bone chilling drone, dismal atmosphere, suffocating dissonance, and depressive melancholy. The song, while very harsh, is also monumentally captivating in its abysmal weight. The song is dreadfully moving and cries blackened sorrow like nothing I’ve heard all year. The ambient parts of the song created by the monstrous guitars over some of the faster and heavier sections add such an abrasive and horrifying quality to the song and compliment the slower parts that are grotesquely eerie and beautifully mournful, coming off as soft at times. Listen to “The Obelisk Gleam” and be dragged into the dismal depths of solitude.
Unisonic‘s “Exceptional” for realio. There’s a lot of good songs of various genres to choose from this year. That whole album just stood out for me. Very well written and executed for what it is IMO. Michael Kiske defies all logic by becoming an even better vocalist with age. It was like the perfect power metal album sans the mythology and bereft of cliches. “No hammers were held high during the creation of this album.”
Accept‘s “Stampede” is my favorite right now.
This song embodies true spirit, raw fire, and the glorious soul of a mighty warrior set against the dark. Are you man enough to stare directly into the mouth of the dragon as its holy flames wash clean all traces of false from you? THE POWER OF THE DRAGON WILL GUIDE US TO THE “TWILIGHT HORIZON.”
I have to give song of the year to the jam that I’ve played the most when looking to get/stay motivated, and Misery Index‘s “Gallows Humor” has not failed me once. It has it all: punishing grooves, great lyrics, an STD-level catchy chorus, relentless drumming, and a beatdown towards the end that makes sure your bangover will be an especially sore one.
“Wings of Feather and Wax” by Killer Be Killed is a nice change of actual songwriting ability.
For me, a Song of the Year will most likely always be from a debut or emerging band because I tend to be optimistic about potential. Many bands flounder on their sophomore releases, but I believe A Sense of Gravity will grow and become a staple of the heavy progressive genre. My choice is “Above the Horizon.”
The verse of this song is built on a polyrhythm; the guitar and bass are in 4/4, and the drummer is playing in 3/4 as she still sings in 4/4. The hypnotic bounce draws me in every time, preparing the way for the massive fuzzed-out “B” section that follows. Sometimes “verse-chorus-verse-chorus” is all you need to write a song of the year. It helps to include some of the hardest-rocking drum fills since the glory days of Muse, of course.
Ok, Toilet Family, what’ve you got? What’s your favorite song this year?